Wednesday, December 21, 2016

To Utopia or Not To Utopia? #WEP December Challenge

'Perfect Is Imperfect Is Perfect' — a tribute to imperfection, by Guilie Castillo
Created in Photoshop, December 2016

Utopia. To me, the word conjures visions of Huxley's Brave New World, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Orwell's 1984. Manic, soma-induced smiles of what passes for happiness (because everyone has forgotten what happiness—that overwhelming, inimitable joy that rises like milk boiling over and fades just as fast—feels like. Thought control. Do's and Don'ts. A shiny happy surface, and under it a roiling swamp of cruelty, of intolerance... The prehistoric, scaly skin of human nature's underbelly.


Maybe I'm a product of my age; in my imagination, utopia decomposes into dystopia rather instantaneously. Perfect is imperfect. And imperfect is perfect. So, if I had to envision a 'perfect' world, it would have to be a place where there is no perfect. Where imperfection is not only tolerated but celebrated. Where differences, and diversity of all kinds, are the only rule. A world without xenophobia, and a society of tolerance, where no life is worth more than another, and all life is sacred.

Is that possible? Current events would seem to prove it's not. But then there's Neil Young...




Do you see people being led by the righteous hand,
Taking care of everyone like they're on a piece of land.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Do you see people's lives being lost on the sacred land,
and the battle over water being fought for the baby's hand.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
When the women of the world are free to stand up for themselves,
and the promises made stop gathering dust on the shelf.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Well I hear you out there when you say what you have to say.
I know how you feel 'cus that's what made me this way.
When heaven on earth is improved by the hand of man,
and people everywhere get together and join their hands.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Show me.
Neil Young - Show Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Monday, November 28, 2016

I get why you did it. No, really, I do.

You were tired of the same-old up in Olympus, the same elites decade after decade passing around power among them, like the in clique at Homecoming passing around a bottle of Chivas and hiding it every time you come close. What Chivas, man? You were tired of your little voice never being heard above the rabble and rouse of all these newly-minted minorities clamoring for their rights. What about yours, eh? We gotta take America back! You were tired of being left out, of watching from the sidelines as decision after decision was made in direct contravention to your interests, and direct contradiction to your wholesome, farm-grown, old-school common sense. You were tired of feeling like the outsider—in your own damn country! You were tired of being treated like a second-class citizen, and of your country being treated like a second-tier nation around the world.



And so you did it. You elected a man that promised to clean out that in clique, shatter that insider elite to smithereens. Government for the people, right? The real people, the ones that really matter. Someone who will look out for the actual Americans, not a bunch of wetback Mohammed-loving darkie upstarts who have no business being here anyway. And a businessman, too, because who better to resolve the nation's economic problems than a man who's spent his entire life in business? I mean, business is all about getting stuff done, right? It's all about the bottom line, and if we can make the bottom line 'Making America Great Again', then—well, by god, that's exactly what our government needs to be sane again!

I get it. Change—drastic, radical change—is incredibly attractive. Hope is even more so. In the face of such change, such possibilities, all that jaded disillusionment with a system that has betrayed you over and over recedes like a tide pulling back to reveal a beach rife with sea-born jewels. You'd given up, you'd learned to live with the despair and ignominy of being unheard and ignored—and now, against all odds, here is someone who speaks your thoughts, who gets you and the problems—the injustices—you live with every day, and who means to set all these wrongs aright. Why would you not vote for him?

I get, too, that your choices weren't all that great to begin with. I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton; actually, the only way I would've voted for her (if I were a US citizen) is if her opponent was ridiculously, hugely unqualified for office. Any office.

Which—ahem—was exactly what happened.

I hate to break it to you, Trump supporters, but you made a gross miscalculation here. You bought into exactly what Trump wanted you to, and you've now elected a president who has no intention of creating anything except benefits and advantages for himself.

Well, you might be thinking, what's wrong with a little self-interest? Looking out for yourself is, after all, the core of the 'American'* dream, isn't it? And what president—what politician—hasn't put him/herself first in the course of their tenure? You may be right; politicians in general seem to be lacking in basic human empathy. But Trump's self-interest, whether he takes it to a whole new level or just falls in with that 'swamp' he promised to drain, will be just the tip of the iceberg.

Trump himself, or a large majority of his supporters, may not be hate-driven KKK building wooden crosses in their spare time; Trump, I believe, is as much a product of his time as Hitler or Stalin (or Nero or Pinochet) were of theirs. Trump, like so many before him, has had the smarts to harness the tides sweeping the country (and the world) and ride them to the cusp of power.

And that, right there, is the real tragedy of the 2016 US election. Trump (et al) may not be a racist, misogynist bigot, but his rhetoric has unleashed racism, and misogyny, and bigotry. He—his expressions, his posturing, his 'handling' of protest and criticism—has enabled, and, further, legitimized, the hatred distilled over decades of discontent and (perceived or real) injustice. Whether intentionally or not (and I do believe it was intentional, seeing the success he had with it), he let the genie out of the bottle... And there's no turning back from that now.

It took me two weeks to begin to verbalize the devastation Nov. 8th left me with. I watched the election coverage from 5pm to 3am (CUR time). I cried like a baby at Trump's victory speech. The world is not the place I thought it was, and it was that realization, more than anything else (and there was plenty else), which destroyed me so totally. I am fortunate to have mostly liberal, left-leaning friends and acquaintances, though that may be a curse disguised as a blessing: it created an echo chamber, a bubble of opinions and prognostications that took it for granted that the majority of US citizens were, no doubt, on the side of equality and civil liberties and basic human rights. And there was no way—no way—that this majority would allow this clown, this unbelievable idiot, to get to the White House. We absolutely believed that—even though we postulated, for the sake of intellectual discourse, the possibility and the whys and wherefores of why it could happen... But it really came down to discussions of alternate realities, theoretical questions that seemed impossible to translate to the world we knew, the country we loved—yes, even us foreigners, to whom the US has always stood as an example of how things should be, the country we held up to our own Latin American governments as the blueprint of what we had to aspire to, what we had to become.

Well. That's done, I suppose. I can no longer defend the US against its detractors. On the contrary, I now must accept, as much as it hurts, that they, these detractors, were right. The US has a long, long history of racism and bigotry, of segregation and abuse of minorities, of religious discrimination, of willful ignorance and deficient education—it's all been documented, it's all public knowledge. How, then, did we miss it? How did the US become the beacon for civil rights that we all believed it to be? How could we be so, so wrong?

No, it is not Trump's fault. It's yours. Because, regardless of what 'benefits' you heard for yourself in Trump's speeches, you also heard the bigotry—and either you agreed with it, or you chose to ignore it. Whichever it was, your bigotry or your ignorance, that is what allowed Trump to run, and to win. If it was bigotry, I have nothing to say to you. If it was ignorance, though, you may not be beyond redemption.

This is what you need to do: you need to hold your president accountable. You need to educate yourself on his policies and his actions, and you need to make sure that a) he stays on track to provide all those 'benefits' (jobs, whatever) he promised, b) that he does so in a way that doesn't destroy your country's economy (see the bit on educating yourself), and, most importantly, c) you need to stop turning a blind eye on the racism and bigotry. You, as a Trump supporter, have the power right now—and the obligation—to ensure all this talk of walls and deportations and registrations and camps (camps!!! just listen to yourselves!!!) remains only talk. You need to stand up for civil rights and for minorities—because you, white US citizen, are a minority. 'America' has never been white. Stop treating 'others' as minorities. You are the minority, and it's about time you develop some empathy for those whose lands and rights you have stolen and defiled.





*'America' is a continent, comprised of 35 sovereign states plus several dependencies and constituencies of European countries. The US isn't even the largest country in the continent (thank you, Canada).


Monday, August 1, 2016

Somebody's Baby (#BoTB)

I'm so sorry, gang... I've been missing too many battles lately. Yes, it's fast times here in Curaçao, but that's really no excuse—I'm sure you all have oodles of stuff to do, too, and yet you manage to post promptly, on time and regularly. So I apologize, and I hope you still love me.

Speaking of fast times, do you remember the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High?




Saturday, July 9, 2016

#BoTB — Results (Ojalá Que Llueva Café)

This one was quick and dirty; Café Tacuba took the lead out of the gate, but Señor Guerra didn't let that stand for long.

Café Tacuba: 3
Birgit
Lee
Dixie

Juan Luis Guerra: 5
Cherdo
Michele
Jeffrey
Mike
John

I love the original, both for its musical integrity and for the lyrics, for Guerra's mastery of both craft and art, and for the subtlety of its lyrics, and it gets me dancing every time. But Café Tacuba's version gives me chills. Yes, of course it's related to my Mexican identity, to how the Son Jarocho speaks to my soul... Perhaps I can't be objective. Perhaps it's a myth to think we can judge any form of art objectively. So, with apologies to Señor Guerra, whom I admire deeply, my vote goes to the Mexican band. (Not that it makes any difference to the result... At least in that regard I can avoid the guilt.)

Loved hearing your take on this one, guys. Until next time! (And I promise I'll be on time... not just for posting my Battle but also for visiting yours. Missed too many this time.)

To close, I leave you with Bachata en Fukuoka, from Mr. Guerra's 2010 album 'A Son de Guerra' ("To The Beat of War", literally, though it's a wordplay on his name).





I'm not sure how popular bachata is in your corner of the woods, so in case you have no idea what it is, let me tell you it's a musical form originally from Dominican Republic (and still mostly popular there), a 4/4 beat that sounds deceptively simple but is incredibly complicated to dance to. Watch these guys:



Now you have something to keep you busy over the weekend :) Have fun!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

#BoTB — Raining Coffee

I'm late to the party, I know... I apologize. I was on a deadline to deliver a short story, and I finally managed to send it in just a little while ago—two days late... ooops. So, with the "job" taken care of, let's hear some music!

This is one of those alternative Battles that sometimes find their way in. The song is Ojalá Que Llueva Café, by Juan Luis Guerra (1989), and we're pitting that original against a cover by an off-the-beaten-path band from Mexico called Café Tacuba (officially spelled Tacvba, the old Castilian way).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gay Degani's 'Rattle of Want' — Lessons on Writing Long vs. Short

I met Gay Degani back in 2013, when we were both part of the Pure Slush project 2014, A Year In Stories—and this is not the first time she graces this blog with her insight. She wrote two pieces for Quiet Laughter during the A2Z challenge in 2014, one on Setting, and one on using Pinterest to increase a book's audience, which has become a top-five in the blog's most viewed posts of all time.

Photo credit: Rachael Warecki
Her 'Old Road' series in the 2014 project (now collected as part of her newest release, Rattle of Want) had me hooked; the characters jumped off the page, the plot—half mystery, half personal drama—kept me riveted, and this cohesiveness to her writing made me certain Gay was a novelist. She had to be. Anyone who masters 'story' at that level must know the longer arcs well.

Imagine my wonder, then, when I found out that—although she does have a published novel— Gay is mostly a writer of incredibly prolific and award-winning flash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The TMI 'Fest — and an Anniversary!


The blog is turning 5! 


Back on June 1st, 2011, when the first post went up on Quiet Laughter, I had no clue what blogging was, or how the blogging world would shape my life. And me. It's been a magical discovery... And to celebrate I'm joining Debbie D. Doglady's bloghop, The TMI 'Fest. Originally started on Facebook (yep, I answered there, too), the TMI—Too Much Information—Questionnaire has now been brought over into the blogosphere. Join the fun—if you dare! Sign up, before July 13th, in the linky at Debbie's blog (or at the end of this post).


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Drift Away — #BoTB Results

Sorry I'm late with the results, guys. (Not sure what happened to my Tuesday :D ) Because these two songs were so different not just from the original but from the Dobie Gray version we all (I think) know best, I expected the votes to be more evenly distributed. I even dreaded thought maybe we'd end up with a tie, which I'd be forced to break. Or make. Fortunately (for me, not for Ringo and his all-stars), after a rocky start—pardon the pun—the Stones managed to run away with the Battle.

Here's the breakdown:

Ringo & The Gang: 4
Debbie
Cherdo
Janie
John

Rolling Stones: 9
Dixie
Lee
Michele
Jeffrey
Stephen
Robin
Birgit
Mike
Yolanda

Much gratitude to everyone who came by to listen and vote, and share your thoughts on the music. It's always a pleasure to feel a part of this BoTB community.

To close, I leave you with another Stones cover... Well, it's semi-Stones, really. Keith Richards and Norah Jones sing Love Hurts. But, in spite of Norah's presence (and Mick's absence), I think it qualifies as appropriately cringe-worthy :D



Happy Hump Day, all!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

#BoTB — Drift Away

Gimme the beat, boys,
and free my soul
I want to get lost in your rock n' roll
and drift away...

All I've got to do is hum that chorus and my feet start tappin' and my soul starts liftin'. But I always wondered about one thing. It's very clearly a country song—maybe that's just the context I heard it in, or the context of the versions I knew: Dobie Gray, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Garth Brooks—but the lyrics, also very clearly, say rock n' roll. For years it stayed one of those weird discrepancies people of my generation (i.e., who grew up without YouTube or Wikipedia or any such) learned to live with.

Until today.

Turns out Drift Away (written by Mentor Williams) may have been famous by Dobie Gray—his version stole the show in 1973—but the original was recorded in 1972 by John Henry Kurtz—and that version totally does sound rock n' roll-ish.

This song has been covered a lot (I mean, Michael Bolton? Really?), and most versions have the Dobie Gray country feel, but I managed to find two that (sort of) don't... And I'm not talking light-weights, either. The first is by none other than the Rolling Stones, an unreleased version that does not include Keith Richards in the line-up—which might explain the odd, not-quite-Rolling-Stone sound:





And to challenge that, we have another group of legends: Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, and Alanis Morissette, and Steve Tyler, with an arrangement that, to me at least, sounds straight-up Ringo (not a bad thing):




What do you think? Which version do you like better? Did the gritty uniformity of the Stones win you over, or did you prefer the color lent by the eclectic vocal choices of the Ringo version? Looking forward to your feedback! I'll be back next Wednesday to tally up the votes, cast my own, and tell you how it all went down.

In the meantime, hop on over to these blogs where more epic Battles are being fought. As always, much gratitude to host Stephen T. McCarthy for keeping the Battle hop not just going but roaring. (And yet, yes, we do miss you, FAE.)


Monday, May 23, 2016

#BoTB Results: 'Storms'

Sorry for posting these results so late, guys. (Where did the week go???) Suspense notwithstanding, no surprise ending for this Battle. You all have spoken, loud and clear:

Best Coast: 3
Lee
Michele
Jeffrey


Matt Sweeney & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: 14
Cathy
Dixie
Cherdo
Debbie
Donna
Susan
Hilary
Birgit
Yolanda
Janie
Stephen
FAE
Mike
Robin

Whoa. 

Well, there you have it. Would it make any sense for me to vote at this point? Probably not, eh? If I vote for Best Coast, it feels like a pity vote. If, on the other hand, I go for Matt & the gang, it feels like playing it safe. I'm not sure which makes me more uncomfortable, this or when it's up to me to break (or make!) a tie. Still, we gotta do what we gotta do...

There was something off about Best Coast, and I felt it from the first time I heard it, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then someone made the comment that Best Coast sounded like they were trying too hard, and that nailed it. The Sweeney duo, on the other hand, sounds like they were born to this song.

So, after much deliberation—seriously, I really do like both versions—goes to Sweeney & 'Prince'.

See you all on the 1st! In the meantime, happy blogging :)


P.S. — FAE, I'm going to miss you. Thank you for almost a year of BoTB fun!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

#BoTB (I'm back!): Fleetwood Mac's 'Storms'

A bit late, yes, but back nonetheless—and very, very happy about it. I apologize for abandoning this blog during April; the A2Z really took its toll this year. (Mainly because I, again, did not prewrite my posts. Why do I do that to myself? Why, why, why?) But it was a great month over at the dog blog... I'll get into that in a later post, though. For now, on to the main thing today: The Battle of The Bands!

Friday, April 8, 2016

#BoTB Results: Thunderstruck (guitar vs cellos)

I'm so pleased you liked this one, guys. And I do apologize for not replying to your lovely, lovely comments... The A2Z has taken over my life. I did make it to a few of your blogs before the voting closed, though, which makes me very happy.

Here's how the guitar vs cellos battle played out:

Guitar (Luca Stricagnoli): 9
Lee
Mike
Debbie
Michele
Dixie
Robin
Cathy
Jeffrey
Birgit


2Cellos: 3
Cherdo
Stephen
FAE

Yep... The guitar came out on top. Most of you had a hard time choosing (I'll take that as a compliment, thank you), which might mean that, in spite of the disparity in votes, these two version were well-matched after all. And which, really, means little. The point is you enjoyed it, and that's what it's all about.

As for my vote... Like you, I couldn't choose. The cello video really made an impression (those popped bowstrings—brilliant), and Luca's playing is truly virtuoso. How to choose? I'll go with the cellos, but I'm not sure if it's a pity vote :D

Thank you so much for playing, and for putting up with my silence. As a token of my gratitude, I leave you with another jewel of Luca Stricagnoli's guitar...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

#BoTB: Thunderstruck

Music can be so versatile... as versatile, in fact, as the musician. And only as versatile as the musician. And these two take AC/DC's Thunderstruck to a whole new level.




Which of these two versions of Thurderstruck do you like most (or dislike the least)? Which of the two—guitar maverick Luca Stricagnoli or the rebels of 2Cellos—do you feel accomplishes the better musicianship? Are you a fan of classical crossovers? What do you think of that rumor making the rounds about Axel Rose replacing Brian Johnson as AC/DC's lead vocals? Cast your vote and share your thoughts in the comments, and come back next Friday to check which way the voting went.

And when you're done voting here, take a hop over to visit these other Battle of the Bands participants for more awesome musical face-offs. As always, a gratitude shout-out to hosts Stephen T. McCarthy and Far Away Eyes for keeping the BoTB going!


P.S. — I apologize upfront; due to the A-to-Z Challenge (which I'm participating in with the dog blog) I may be a bit late replying and visiting you back. But I will get there :) And if you're doing the A-to-Z this April, please let me know!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Rhythms del Mundo: #BoTB Results

Well, well. I'd like to say I'm surprised by the winner here, but... the Latin version of Clocks really does swing...


Clocks: 11
Lee
Michele
Susan
Cathy
Dixie
Hilary
Robin
Stephen
Birgit
FAE
Cherdo


Hotel California: 2
Jeffrey
Elliptical Man


Purple Haze: 4
Debbie
Jacques
John
Mike


What I am surprised at is the loser: Hotel California got all of two votes.

Wow.

I'm so glad you all enjoyed this quirky Battle. Thanks so much for coming by to play and vote and comment and dissect your opinions. Next Battle is on April 1st, and although this blog isn't joining the A-to-Z April Challenge, I am participating with The Dog Blog... which means April BoTB posts will probably be short and sweet (and result posts might be a tad late)... Apologies upfront for that, and thanks for understanding :)

Speaking of the Challenge and The Dog Blog, today is the Theme Reveal hop. If you're so inclined, I'd love to see you over there... That blog needs all the help it can get, and the theme I've chosen isn't exactly going to earn me any popularity awards, so a friendly comment or two to drown out the crickets would be much, much appreciated :)

Love you all to bits! And, to prove it, I leave you with another awesome Latin crossover cover. Bet you never imagined Led Zeppelin's mega classic could sound this good ;) (Give it time, though... it takes near 2 min from the start to get fully Latinized.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#BoTB: the Rhythms del Mundo edition

I'm back! The flu did me in for a couple of weeks, then life just... went a little wild. All's good though, and I'm happy to be back in the Battle of The Bands swing.

Got something a little different for you today. These aren't different versions of the same song, but rather different songs in similar covers. Perhaps you're familiar with the Rhythms del Mundo albums? As fundraising for Artists Project Earth, they create covers of pop songs in latin rhythms, very often with the original artists on vocals and some instruments. The first album, Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba, for instance, had none other than Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) as main collaborators. The results were... well, pretty amazing, I thought. And now I'm curious to see what you think.

Instead of pairing the cover version with the original, I decided to showcase three of my favorite songs in their Latino incarnations and let you be the judge of which works best (or least worse) as an adaptation.

Ready?

First up is Coldplay, Clocks. (Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba, 2006)



The Killers with Hotel California... (Rhythms del Mundo: Classics, 2009)



And, finally, the weirdest (but good weird) cover I've ever heard of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze. The fact that they kept Jimi's guitar (if not the vocals) just adds to the whole sense of unreality here. (Rhythms del Mundo: Classics, 2009)




So. What do you think? Which of these three sounds most like it was born to be Latino? Or, maybe, which one sounds least ridiculous doing the cha-cha? Let me know in the comments, and come back next Tuesday to find out how the votes played out. Also, take a hop over and visit the excellent battles being fought at these blogs, too:


Thanks for coming by, and for playing along with my weird battle today. Really looking forward to your thoughts on this one.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Down with the flu...

So sorry, #BOTB gang... I'm skipping this one due to the flu. Will do my best to visit you all & vote in the next few days when I'm feeling better.

Monday, February 8, 2016

#BoTB Results: Wish You Were Here

And thus ends the decades-long Gilmour-Waters dispute. Take a knee, Roger, and bow your head.

David Gilmour: 17.5
Lee
Denise
Mike (0.5)
Elsie
Alex
Vidya
FAE
Cathy
John
Michele
Elliptical Man
Roland
Birgit
Hank
Jeffrey
Robin
Donna
Madilyn

Roger Waters: 3.5
Mike (0.5)
Yolanda
Dixie
Susan

I almost feel sorry for Roger. Almost. Because I'm in the majority here... As much as I admire the eerie quality of his voice, the way emotion translates unedited into it, and his talent on the bass, it's Gilmour who wins this for me. Sorry, Roger.

For your further enjoyment, the Pulse version of Wish You Were Here (Division Bell tour, 1994)



Thank you so much, everyone, for being a part of this story, of this epic battle, and of the roaring success that was the Lost & Found hop. Special thanks to mastermind Arlee Bird and co-hosts Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Elizabeth Seckman, and the Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh, without whose dedication and effort and enthusiasm—and, in Alex's case, extraordinary tech support—this hop might not have been half as successful, and certainly not nearly as much fun. It was an honor to be your co-host.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Love Song That Wasn't — Lost & Found hop + #BoTB

"Every new beginning comes
from some other beginning's end."
~ Seneca

(Seneca, yes. Not Semisonic.)

Note to BoTB-ers: To skip the preamble and go straight to the Battle, scroll down to where the long Lost & Found banner is :)



When people of my generation think of love songs, they might think of Bryan Adams or Bangles or Peter Cetera or Air Supply or Richard Marx (if they're mainstream). The "pseudo-rocker" crowd might list Journey, Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, Meatloaf, or Heart, while the "real" rockers might go for Def Leppard, INXS, U2, The Cure, Scorpions, Cheap Trick, REM. The really alternative ones might go for The Smiths or Billy Idol or Leonard Cohen or Fiction Factory or Cutting Crew or David Bowie or Echo & The Bunnyman or ... let's face it, we wouldn't have known them anyway.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Murder & Obsession: @yolandarenee Cover Reveal!

Flames burn between a hardboiled cop and a gifted artist, but soon extinguish as another man's obsession ignites into an inferno of desire, driving him to destroy the object of his madness.


Congratulations, Yolanda! A-ma-zing cover for Book #3 in the Detective Quaid Mysteries series!

Monday, January 25, 2016

#BoTB Results: Tribute to David Bowie

This was as close to a shut-out (or is it blow-out? I can never keep them straight) as my Battles have come... Nirvana won 15 to 2.


Nirvana (15)
Lee
Debbie
Dixie
Mike
Mary
Michele
Stephen
Kim
Donna
Jeffrey
John
Janie
Robin
Madilyn
Cherdo


Midge Ure (2)
Birgit
FAE

Not that my vote would matter at this point, but... Yeah, I vote for Nirvana, too. I love Midge's version, but — like so many pointed out in the comments — Nirvana's has an emotional significance (and content) that's hard to match.

Thanks, everyone, for coming by to vote and comment, and my apologies for the late post with the results. I'm finally back in Dushi Kòrsou, happy to be home (and in good-wifi land :D ). I've missed you all.

Friday, January 15, 2016

#BoTB : Goodbye, David Bowie

Can you hear me, Major Tom? 
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?

A legend has left us behind. This is my mediocre way of paying tribute to a genius that changed the face of music with a career that spanned half a century.



In Bowie's own words (1997):
"That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you're young, when you know that there's a piece of yourself that you haven't really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are."

Great, great song.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Meanwhile, on the Miracle front...

The Chit Chat Café at Mensing's Caminada, Curaçao's largest
bookstore. The café has graciously agreed to host us for
the launch.
The Miracle of Small Things has come home. Thanks to the wonderful people at Mensing's Caminada bookstore, the book is now for sale here in Curaçao, the island that gave it life. The official launch is planned for Saturday Feb. 13th, but we decided that—due to the long wait—it was a good idea to put a few copies up for sale pre-launch.

Why the long wait? Why not do the launch earlier—now, for instance? Or—as we'd originally planned—before Christmas and the big shopping season? Yes, that would've made sense. But living on an island that no one (including international postal services) can find on a map has its drawbacks.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

No New Year's Like Curaçao's, #BoTB Results, Lost & Found, Etc.

Even if this battle wasn't too popular (only 13 votes), it was still very close.


Karen Souza: 6
Dixie
Mary
Stephen
John
Janie
Jeffrey


Aslan: 7
Michele
Mike
Birgit
Elliptical Man
Susan
Lee
Robin

Which brings us to my vote. I'm tempted to make this a tie... I really do like Karen's version and listen to it often, while Aslan's I'd never heard of until I found it for this Battle. And yet... Aslan really did blow me away. I think it was Robin who said their version was somehow sadder and more hopeful all at the same time — yes. Yes. There's something about that version that hits the spot for me in a way that Karen's, as interesting at it is musically, does not.

So. I vote for Aslan.

Huge gratitude to everyone that took time off from a busy start-of-the-year schedule to come by and vote (or just say hi) — loved seeing you here. I'm painfully behind on returning blog visits and in blogging generally, but I'll catch up in the next few days. Promise :)

You know that bit from the opening of The Miracle of Small Things,


"There's no stillness like the stillness of Curaçao on New Year's Day. Pointless tropical sun on deserted asphalt, every business shuttered, everything forlorn. Not even trash stirs: the wind is on furlough too. There's also no New Year's Eve like Curaçao's, which explains the stillness."

These are some of the reasons why.







Yes, January 1st is a quiet, quiet day. 



Speaking of 1sts, the sign-up for the Lost & Found hop on Feb 1st is going on FIFTY participants since the linky went up on Monday. Which is great — yay! But I've also noticed a few people who disqualify themselves from participating because they feel they've been unlucky in love, and that is not good.

So let's get something clear: this is a hop as much about being in love as out of it. As much about the presence as about the absence. And — this is important, so I need your undivided attention — it's about love in general, so not only of the romantic kind.

Listen, it's okay if you don't want to participate. But don't think you can't participate because love hasn't treated you right recently (or, you know, ever). This is your chance to get back at it. Let your creativity loose and tell us just how dimwitted the lovelorn look to the innocent bystander. Tell us about that awkward sense of relief when a bad relationship is, finally, over. Or go wild and tell us about that weirdo who's in love with his car. (No, don't look at me like that. Stephen King built a career on that one; why not you?)

Seriously. This is a hop meant to gather, prism-like, all the different aspects of that "crazy little thing", and all the weird stuff we'll do for it (or to avoid it). Your contribution, in whatever form it comes, will be unique — and, because of that, will add something important.

Okay, passionate plea is over. As you were.



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Laughing Heart (Charles Bukowski, read by Tom Waits)

"That's a beauty," he says at the end. Yes... yes, it is. Enjoy.




your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
-- by Charles Bukowski

Monday, January 4, 2016

Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition (a blog hop)

Love... Even the word sounds like a sigh. But is it a sigh of contentment—or of regret? If you've found it, the world shines in colors vivid. If you've lost it, life fades into grays and shadows. There's nothing quite as intense as falling in love. Or as the feeling of loss when it ends.



This is a blog hop to celebrate love: lost, or found, or—both? Whether in short fiction, or a brief essay, or poetry, or even (especially for us Battle of the Bands participants) via a song, tell us a love story. Whether it's of loss or a happily-ever-after is up to you—as is the genre. Sci-fi, thriller, comedy, memoir—it's all good. "Love" is, after all, so much more than just "romance". On Monday February 1st, it's all about love, in all its forms. The only limit is your creativity.

The Lost & Found: Valentine's Edition blog hop was born as a collaboration with Arlee Bird, and we're thrilled to have enlisted fabulous help from co-hosts Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Elizabeth Seckman, and the Ninja Captain himself, Alex Cavanaugh.

Sign up to the Love Lost & Found extravaganza at the linky below. See you on Monday February 1st!





Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Day (#BoTB)

"There's no stillness like the stillness of Curaçao on New Year's Day."

So opens The Miracle of Small Things, a line reminiscent of U2's "All is quiet on New Year's Day..." No song more appropriate, then, to start off a new year of Battle of the Bands.

I wouldn't even dream of pitting the original against... well, anyone. This is a sacred song for me—for us. My dushi and I have been singing this together, at the top of our voices,  thirteen New Years in a row, sometime around 7pm—midnight in Holland, and the first New Year's "bang" here in Curaçao: fireworks, hugs, phone calls, clinking of beer bottles, general uproar—and a fairly predictable playlist, whether by DJ or live band, that includes Auld Lang Syne and U2's New Year's Day.

We may not have a "world in white" here in the tropics, but...

I want to be with you, be with you
Night and day
Nothing changes on New Year's Day.




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